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Top Kid-Friendly Ski Resorts in the USA
Enjoy cold-weather activities and quality time together on and off the slopes.
At these family-friendly ski retreats, powder hounds of all ages, preferences and skill levels have plenty of terrain to tackle and après-ski activities to enjoy.
Looking for a family-friendly ski resort that won't bore downhill racers? Five of the top-rated snow retreats provide the ease of access, condo lodging, activities, entertainment and superior ski and snowboard schools that make them ideal for experts hitting the slopes with school-age kids. Without further ado, here are the best mountain towns and kid-friendly resorts to shred powder with your gang this season.
Less than two hours from Denver, Keystone is Vail Resorts' moderately priced family mountain with some of North America's best backcountry skiing. The season-long Kids Ski Free program, as its name suggests, allows visitors 12 and younger to ski for free and has given away 100,000 lift tickets to families who book a two-night or longer stay at one of the resort's three car-free base villages, where activities geared toward kids are endless. Kidtopia programs feature non-stop snowplay, adventure walks, cooking and pottery classes, skating, parades and more. What's more, most activities are free. Young novices can hit the slopes at Camp Keystone, which uses interactive gaming and a 24-foot slide to propel kids onto the snow. Meanwhile, Schoolyard is the mountain's terrain-based learning zone where small bumps, carved turns and customized features enable kids to hone freestyle moves when they're not hanging out at the A51 Terrain Park. And River Run Village, the 9,300-foot-high base area for Colorado's biggest snow fort and largest night skiing operation, welcomes teens to its pizza parlors and cafes. With 57 percent of the nearly 3,000 acres classified as expert terrain, there's something for everyone after acclimating to the high altitude.
Park City Mountain Resort
Park City, Utah
Just a 35-minute drive away from Salt Lake City, Utah, the compact, Western-chic town of Park City – host to the annual Sundance Film Festival – is a family favorite, especially with teens. In December 2015, the Olympic-class slopes at the former Park City Mountain Resort were connected by gondola to the massive terrain at Canyons as part of Vail's $50 million project to make its latest acquisition the country's largest ski resort. Until the powder settles, stick to the original Park City Mountain Resort slopes and base where top learning programs, kids' facilities, a lift that offloads in the historic town and the National Ability Center, a renowned non-profit program designed to help those with any type of physical or mental challenge enjoy adaptive recreation, are located.
Smugglers' Notch Resort
More isolated, but within an hour's drive of Burlington International Airport, this tranquil northern Vermont resort is all about keeping kids busy while experts hit the dense glades blanketing 50 percent of its three peaks. With lots of snowmaking gear and a cozy environment that attracts repeat guests, learners of any ability can take all-day ski or snowboard camps. Ski enthusiasts ages 10 and up can try their hand at afternoon airboard sledding or join evening snow tubing and snowboarding programs. Off the slopes, there's a zip line canopy tour, an indoor FunZone recreation complex and a massage center offering Swedish massage and aromatherapy treatments designed for visitors ages 10 to18. Best of all, Club Smugglers' one-price packages include daily snowshoe treks, cross country ski lessons, mug painting, Snowcat rides and more. Most activities are conveniently centered at the pedestrian base village, where parents can sit by the fireplace with a glass of wine while watching kids play.
Aspen Snowmass Resorts
Aspen and Snowmass Village, Colorado
Snowmass is the largest of the four mountain resorts (including Aspen, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk) collectively known as Aspen Snowmass, served by their own airport in the Rockies just west of the Continental Divide. The 3,400 skiable acres and 4,400 feet of vertical at Snowmass offer plenty of terrain for expert instruction for kids of all abilities. You'll find a Treehouse Kids' Adventure Center featuring a gym as well as activities for teens, a kids-only Lizard Lodge, a teen-only ski and snowboard classes, a spectator-friendly youth race arena. Multi-resort lift tickets give everyone the chance to check out the other mountains: the famous black-diamond glades, bumps and steeps at Aspen; backcountry action at Aspen Highlands and the 22-foot superpipe at Buttermilk that hosts the annual X Games Aspen. Snowmass' large base village has free shuttles serving all four resorts, plus extensive lodging options, 37 restaurants and daily activities, such as storytelling, bowling, wildlife treks and pool parties. What's more, après-ski and Kids Night Out parties allow parents to hit the legendary restaurants, bars and clubs nearby in Aspen's celebrity playground.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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